As a Mountain Biker in Florida I have to spend a lot of time on the concrete. However, that doesn't necessarily have to remove me from nature. I was helping my wife with a pet sitting job and just by odd circumstance we happened to be staying near the Venice to Sarasota Rail-Trail, otherwise known as the Legacy Trail.
Rail Trails are a series of paths being built all over the country. Old rail lines long past destroyed are now being converted into bike trails. I decided to give this one a try.
I started at the Mission Valley entrance on Laurel Rd in Nokomis. I already had a two mile warm-up so the moment I hit the path I was able to go all out. I clicked up to the top gear and settled into the time trial position.
A Rail Trail is unlike other paths for many reasons but the first and most obvious is that it is still surrounded by nature and teeming with wildlife. The Legacy trail is one long, uninterrupted stretch flanked by Florida scrub brush and marshlands. Half a mile onto the trail two Raccoons crossed right in front of me, I also saw two snakes and three Gopher turtles.
The trail is well maintained. It has multiple rest stops complete with benches that have some protection from the rain and there are even signs that explain about the local wildlife. The atmosphere on the trail is very biker friendly. I saw 30 riders in my short time there. They ranged from senior citizens on lofty cruisers to hardcore cyclists whizzing by with their legs pumping hard and their eyes on the ground. You get that feeling of being part of a larger community.
In addition to the nature views on both sides there some other distractions that give the trail some depth. First off I thought it was cool that it went under State Road 681. There is a trail entrance to Oscar Scherer State Park complete with park map. One of the creek bridges passes by a remnant of the old train tracks kept in place as a reminder of times past. There are even mile markers to give you an idea of your approximate location when you are far from a street crossing.
My 23 mile journey was enjoyed under cloudy skies and at top speed. I cruised all the way up to Palmer Ranch Parkway and then rode for a few miles on Honore Road where, coincidentally, I race the Tempo and Timmy's Time Trial once a month. I was making such great time that I didn't want to stop so I took these pictures while I was riding.
While I don't recommend my version of high speed photography, I do recommend the Legacy Trail for recreational riding or fitness training. With great views, nice people and lots of nature you can't go wrong.